IS IT EVER TOO LATE TO LEARN TO READ?
My child/teen/adult with DS can’t read yet…is it too late?
No, it’s not too late. My oldest “starting student” with Down syndrome was 33 and legally blind. He is learning to read.
This is not a one-off; it can be done.
Let’s hear it from Sue Buckley, researcher/educator/founder of Down Syndrome Education International in the UK:
“It is always too early to say that children, young people, or adults cannot learn to read…Children with Down syndrome can ‘take off’ with reading at any age…Almost all children with Down syndrome are capable of reaching a level of reading achievement that will be functionally useful if we, their parents and teachers, believe that this is possible and steadily help them to progress.”
Why hasn’t reading happened?
Great next question. So let’s ask: what’s been missing? What’s been interfering? Why hasn’t s/he learned by now?
Choose one! (or more)
- Ineffective reading program not geared to learning strengths (strong visual learners)
- Ineffective reading program that triggers learning deficits (short term auditory memory, etc.)
- Boring reading material
- Reading material not age-appropriate
- Teacher who doesn’t understand how our learners with DS most easily learn
- Teacher who hasn’t read my book “Whole Child Reading” (LOL!)
So that’s the short list. There’s a longer list, but this one can get you started.
Any of those elements can interfere with reading success…not to mention undiagnosed secondary issues: autism, ADHD, undiagnosed vision problems, etc.
The unvarnished truth
Here it is: reading success rarely happens Monday through Friday in the classroom alone. Teachers can’t do this without parent support and involvement. Learning to read is a daily journey. Repetition is KEY.
In an ideal world, both parents and teachers are working together on this, using different materials in each venue so that boredom doesn’t kick in and knock down the castle everyone is working so hard to build. Notice I didn’t say “different methods.” Find a method that works for that particular child and stick with it.
If one method isn’t working, find something else. Don’t be an example of Einstein’s definition of insanity which was, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” If it ain’t worked for the past year, it ain’t gonna work tomorrow.
Shuffle your deck of cards
Stick to one reading method that works, but use fresh materials regularly; in my workshops, I show a slide of shuffling a deck of cards. That should be our concept when we think of materials to teach reading. Use different material, varied material, in a high-interest mix that engages. Shuffle those together. If we bore ’em, we lose ’em.
Never say never
It’s really, truly, never too late. In my book “Whole Child Reading,” I devote an entire chapter to older non-readers. We can do this.